You may have heard reports in the media regarding breast implants and a rare form of cancer. The FDA recently updated information regarding this disease (Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL)). If you have a breast augmentation or implant-based breast cancer reconstruction, there is no cause to be alarmed.

Here are some basic facts about BIA-ALCL:

  • BIA-ALCL is not a breast cancer, but a rare and treatable T-cell lymphoma that usually develops as a fluid swelling around breast implants.
  • The lifetime risk for this disease appears to be about 1 case for every 30,000 textured implants. This equates to a 0.003 percent risk.*
  • The FDA is not recommending removal of textured implants. Rather, the FDA recommends that every woman conduct regular self-examination. If you develop swelling or a lump in your breast, contact our office immediately. We will comprehensively evaluate you and order the appropriate tests to determine if any treatment is indicated.
  • Women who develop BIA-ALCL can often be cured by simply removing the implant and the scar tissue surrounding it. Some patients may require additional treatment (such as radiation or chemotherapy). Following removal, replacement with a smooth surface implant may be an option.

Below is an extract from a recent article in Allure Magazine that is in line with the opinions of LIPSG:

“Alex K. Wong, an associate professor of surgery and director of plastic surgery research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, and one of the surgeons quoted in the New York Times’s story, offered this comment to Allure on the FDA’s statement: “While it is certainly concerning that breast implants have been linked to patient deaths, it is important to know that BIA-ALCL is very rare and in most cases completely curable by surgical removal of the implant and surrounding capsule. This news should prompt further research into the disease and other related disorders, and motivate patients and surgeons to more frequently monitor the status of breast implants by physical exam or MRI. Despite the small risk, I believe [implants] are safe when properly used by qualified plastic surgeons, and that they provide a benefit to patients, especially those seeking breast reconstruction following a mastectomy…”

Click HERE if you’d like to read additional information about BIA-ALCL. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is working closely with the FDA in monitoring the disease. Long Island Plastic Surgical Group will continue to report any new developments.

*Note: Last week, the FDA updated its website to reflect 359 medical device reports that have been submitted to the FDA’s Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database as of February 1, 2017. Importantly, the FDA notes that these reports may contain incomplete, inaccurate, unconfirmed information, and therefore should not be interpreted as a definitive number of cases.